More and more people are saying “no” to gluten in their diets due to having celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or intolerance, or by their personal choice. The truth is that gluten free is not a fad; it’s a way of life for as many as one in three people in our nation.
So, what’s the big deal with going gluten free? Read on.
For starters, one in 133 people is affected by celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the small intestine. The damage caused can lead to intestinal damage, gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, weight loss and malnutrition, among other anomalies. Interestingly, as many as two million Americans may have celiac disease, while only 300,000 or so have been diagnosed with it.
Likewise, non-celiac gluten sensitivity causes inflammation along the bowel and can have varying symptoms, says Dr. Will Clower, a neuroscientist. He explains, “You can have bloating, you can have gastrointestinal ugliness, diarrhea and constipation. It can induce headaches, it can induce dizziness, and it can induce brain fog where you’re just not thinking clearly.” Some research indicates that approximately six percent of the population has gluten sensitivity.
For those with celiac disease and those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, even small amounts of gluten can set them off, so they must avoid it altogether. That sounds easier than it is, too, since gluten is in everything from most breads, cereals, pastas, pizzas to conventional frozen veggies, soy sauce and even many medications as well as stamps, lipsticks and much, much more.
As you can see, we are on gluten overload!
Not only can going gluten free help those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, but it can also help those with mood disorders such as ADD or autism. Going gluten free may also help those with other autoimmune problems, including Raynaud’s phenomenon, scleroderma, Crohn’s disease and lupus. Oftentimes, those with these disorders also have celiac disease, although they may not realize it.
Even those who don’t have celiac disease or non-celiac sensitivity still choose to go gluten free. They cite feeling better and feeling lighter. Whether or not going gluten free helps with weight loss is a highly debated topic, but there are reasons why those who do away with gluten often lose weight. For one, sources of gluten are often filled with unhealthy carbs that quickly increase blood sugar levels, which can lead to weight gain. It’s a vicious cycle, too. When you repeatedly trigger high blood sugar levels with a steady carb-heavy, gluten-filled diet, then you also trigger more fat accumulation, especially in the abdominal area which encompasses—and adversely affects—your internal organs as well.
The results are not only increased weight and body fat, but also increased risk of cardiovascular problems, diabetes, hypertension, dementia, arthritis and cancer. The opposite is also true: get your blood sugar under control with gluten-free, low-carb healthy foods and you usually can manage your weight better.
It’s no wonder so many are going gluten free.